2022 NHL Draft Preview: Flyers Have 5th Overall Pick
Draft day has arrived for the NHL. On Thursday night, 32 prospects will have their name called in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft, being held at Bell Centre in Montreal.
The Flyers currently hold the fifth overall pick, but that could certainly change before the night begins or they make the selection just a few moments into the first round.
Going into the draft, Shane Wright was widely regarded as the likely first overall pick, but that has changed some in recent weeks. Both Juraj Slafkovsky and Logan Cooley are names expected to be in the Top 3 with Wright, and should be off the board before the Flyers pick.
From there, it is a free-for-all, with many believing that teams’ individual lists will make for an unpredictable first round. As we prepare for the start of the NHL Draft, we are providing this preview from the Flyers perspective, looking at targets with the fifth overall pick, a recent history of the fifth overall pick, and the possibility of the Flyers trading the pick.
5 Targets for Flyers at 5th Overall
- D David Jiricek - It’s hard to look past a right-handed defenseman like Jiricek who plays his position well and maintains good positioning. For HC Plzen in the Czechia league, he scored five goals and 11 points in 29 games, showing the ability to get his shot through traffic while being a good skater at both ends of the ice.
- D Šimon Nemec - Another right-handed defenseman, Nemec can balance the offensive and defensive roles of his position well. He’s able to activate and create offensively, but puts himself in the right position to play solid defense. With HC Nitra in the Slovakian league, he scored one goal and had 25 assists for 26 points in 39 games, but had five goals and 17 points in 19 playoff games.
- C/LW Cutter Gauthier - A versatile player capable of playing center or left wing, Gauthier knows how to play defensively by using his body in an effort to win battles and work hard in the trenches. He’s an effective offensive player with quick puck movement in transition and an ability to take the puck to the net. The US National Development Team prospect scored 34 goals and 65 points in 54 games last season and was a standout at World Juniors with three goals and nine points in six games. He is committed to play college hockey at Boston College.
- C Matthew Savoie - If you are looking for a prospect that has the potential to be one of the skill players out of this draft, Savoie is certainly worth a look. He’s always looking to produce, using great skating speed and agility combined with skilled hands to create chances. For the Winnipeg Ice in the WHL last season, Savoie scored 35 goals and had 90 points in 65 games, then added six goals and 12 points in 10 playoff games.
- RW Joakim Kemell - Another skilled player on the wing who positions himself well for scoring opportunities. Kemell has great anticipation and reads the game well to keep offensive pressure on. He adds some flash to his game with creativity. With JYP in Liiga in Finland, Kemell scored 15 goals and 23 points in 39 games last season. He also scored six goals and eight points in five games at World Juniors.
Recent History of 5th Overall Pick
Before the Flyers make their pick, should they keep it, at this year’s draft, it’s time to look at some of the recent picks with the fifth overall pick.
Some of these picks have yet to make an impact with their team as they develop, but in many cases, getting a Top 5 pick can produce a key player to a roster.
In 2021, the Columbus Blue Jackets selected Kent Johnson, who made his NHL debut last season and played in nine games with three assists. Jake Sanderson, selected fifth overall by Ottawa in 2020, has yet to make his NHL debut. Alex Turcotte, selected by Los Angeles in 2019, has just eight NHL games of experience.
But there are plenty of recent success stories from the fifth overall pick. Elias Pettersson, taken by Vancouver in 2017, has 97 goals and 221 points in 245 games. Noah Hanifin, fifth overall in 2015 to Carolina, has spent the last four years in Calgary and has 42 goals and 201 points in 517 games played.
In 2013, Carolina selected Elias Lindholm. Lindholm is also with Calgary now and had an excellent 2021-22 season, scoring a career-high 42 goals and 82 points. In his career, he has 181 goals and 449 points in 663 games.
From 2003 to 2013, every player selected with the fifth overall pick has reached at least 600 NHL games played:
- 2003 - Thomas Vanek (Buffalo) - 1,029 GP, 373 G, 416 A, 789 P
- 2004 - Blake Wheeler (Phoenix) - 1,046 GP, 296 G, 571 A, 867 P
- 2005 - Carey Price (Montreal) - 712 GP, 361-261-79, 2.51 GAA, .917 SV%
- 2006 - Phil Kessel (Boston) - 1,204 GP, 399 G, 557 A, 956 P
- 2007 - Karl Alzner (Washington) - 686 GP, 20 G, 110 A, 130 P
- 2008 - Luke Schenn (Toronto) - 863 GP, 38 G, 131 A, 169 P
- 2009 - Brayden Schenn (Los Angeles) - 776 GP, 219 G, 305 A, 524 P
- 2010 - Nino Niederreiter (NY Islanders) - 732 GP, 181 G, 187 A, 368 P
- 2011 - Ryan Strome (NY Islanders) - 621 GP, 130 G, 227 A, 357 P
- 2012 - Morgan Rielly (Toronto) - 654 GP, 69 G, 304 A, 373 P
- 2013 - Elias Lindholm (Carolina) - 663 GP, 181 G, 268 A, 449 P
Could the Flyers Trade the Pick?
There is the possibility that the Flyers could trade the fifth overall pick. Last year, prior to the start of the draft, the Flyers moved the 13th overall pick in the trade to acquire defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, thus sending away their only first-round pick.
GM Chuck Fletcher stated when he addressed the media last week that moving the fifth pick would involve careful consideration. This is an opportunity to acquire a player via the draft that develops into a key piece of the franchise’s future, but he would also be willing to move the pick in a deal that got the team a player in his early-to-mid-20s with a long future ahead with the franchise.
That contributed to the idea that the fifth overall pick could be a main asset in an aggressive offseason. With rumors swirling involving Chicago forward Alex DeBrincat, the latest reports suggest the Flyers don’t want to part with the fifth overall pick in a deal involving the 40-goal scorer. That said, things can change quickly on the draft floor, especially if the Flyers seriously have their eye on adding a player like DeBrincat.
There is also the possibility that the Flyers have their eye on a player and feel they can trade back to get him with a later pick in the first round. The team does not currently have a second-round pick and could use the fifth overall pick to move back a few spots and perhaps obtain another pick for earlier on Day 2.
There are certainly options for the Flyers. While this is an opportunity to get a young prospect who could become a key part of the future, it is also a trade chip that could net the Flyers a skill player that is the high-end talent they have been searching for. With just a few hours remaining until the draft begins, we’re about to see just how the Flyers plan goes as the offseason gets in full swing.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.
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